Sarah Giles – Awesome You

Sarah Giles

Awesome You, Stepping out of the Shadows is Sarah Giles’ nudge for us to stop standing on the sidelines and step out of the shadows, confidently, owning who we truly are and taking our place in the world. This starts with understanding ourselves a bit better enabling us to better support others. Pace matters. We may need to stop, take the moment to pause and be still.

How about the fear we face? Fear starts to disappear when we are so focused on our purpose, and our journey. We naturally start to feel more comfortable and confident to take our first steps towards something different.

Stephen King reminds us that  : “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Baby steps stop us feeling overwhelmed as we set realistic goals and take action. The challenge is that as we become more self aware, things change. “Embracing being me is key to growth and autonomy. We are work in progress – always learning and growing.” Sarah quotes Robert Toth “genius is there in all of us, just waiting for us to tap into it.”

Often, we put ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list.  Embracing ourselves means learning to slow down, finding time to reconnect with ourselves and becoming truly aligned with our purpose, passions and values. “It’s only when you start believing in yourself that the magic really starts to happen. “It’s not selfish to want to be the best version of you. When you live confidently you open yourself up to opportunities.” says Sarah. She draws inspiration from her role model Helen Mirren “Look fear straight in its ugly face and barge forward.”.  We close our conversation reflecting on the place of introverts in this change process.   Susan Cain in her book Quiet, ‘The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking “offers introverts a way to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths.  Everybody has something to gain from Sarah’s brilliant master piece, ‘It starts with me”.  It is truly a gem.

Sarah Gilles is a confidence and mindset coach for quietly ambitious women with purpose. Sarah helps them to step out of the shadows unlock the natural strengths and make an impact as their true self.

CONTACT: website:, ,


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your hosts, Tesse Akpeki and co-host  Paula Okonneh. Where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope that you will walk with us on this adventure. Our guest today is Sarah Gilles author of “It Starts With Me”, and we will be talking about the amazing you. I’ll tell you something about Sarah. Sarah Gilles is a confidence and mindset coach for quietly ambitious women with purpose. Sarah helps them to step out of the shadows unlock the natural strengths and make an impact as their true self. She uses a blend of coaching and an NLP techniques to support her clients on their transformation journey. Sarah also works at organizations offering bespoke one-to-one and group coaching to support with employee wellbeing. I can go on and on and on reading your bio it’s impressive, Sarah. So I want to welcome you to “TesseTalks” and I’ll let Tesse go from there.

Tesse: 00:01:25 Yes, Sarah, welcome to the show and I’m so glad that you are here, I’ve been wanting to meet you for ages. So I’m a bit of a fan of your work and really interesting, I was reading your book and “It Starts With Me”. I think what an apt title, you know, starts with me. And I’m curious to hear your thoughts about the importance of self-awareness, especially in the workplace or in our governing boards today.

Sarah: 00:01:53 Yeah. So firstly thank you for having me it’s great to be here. And yes the book that I was part of a bit collaboration and part of that was about women embracing their stories and Up leveling a point in their lives and I’m really embracing this trend. So that was great to be part of. And the self-awareness journey, I think is a very interesting one and I think sometimes we just need to actually stop and take that moment to pause and be still. Because sometimes we are so busy, especially in the work that we’re doing and we burn and live on autopilot at times that we don’t stop. And I think sometimes we’re actually afraid of that silence and it’s not until you do stop that you start to become more self-aware because you learn a lot about yourself  then once you have that chance to finally stop.

Tesse: 00:02:56 Wow. I love that bit about you know, the silence is good and sometimes you just have that time for reflection and that stillness to that. Paula, you have a question related to this. I’m sure you’re as fascinated as I am at this. “It Starts With Me” theme.

Paula: 00:03:12 Absolutely, and when you talked about the silence. I had made reference before we got on about a series that we are doing, which is very similar, where it’s you know, we talk about how it starts with silence. Sometimes you gotta be still to know what you want and then you can start proceeding you know. That brings me to my question which is, what are the benefits when people understand their own personalities when they understand their strengths, their weaknesses? Because I think that’s very important.

Sarah: 00:03:40 Definitely, when we really know our purpose, our values, those things that are important to us, it helps really push us forward. There’s a lot of things in life that sometimes we get held back by the fear don’t we?  It’s that fear that we’re too scared to make that step, that leap to go for sometimes what truly matters to us. But actually when you are true yourself and really aligned with all of that. The fear starts to disappear because you’re so focused on that purpose and your journey to get there, that you naturally start to feel more comfortable and confident to take those steps. And I always talk about actually baby steps because. I think sometimes people have these huge goals in life and they’re up here and actually then they become so overwhelming that you don’t take any action towards them. Then we stop ourselves from achieving them. So I always say it’s all about those little steps and not forgetting these strategies that you need to take in-between to get you to that big goal.

Paula: 00:04:51 Awesome, awesome. I wish I had known you about two years ago when I needed to know all of this.

Tesse: 00:04:59 Yeah, I agree with you Paula that it’s kind of like hindsight a wonderful thing. But anybody kind of picking up this now would be gaining from it. And noted a paragraph in your book Sarah, and I love it. It says, “I hope by sharing my story, I can help you to realize that you already have the strengths within you. It’s time to stop standing on the sidelines and step out of the shadows. To feel confident owning who you truly are and take your place in this world as you serve it too”. That’s absolutely brilliant. So my question really is when we become self-aware, what does that make possible? What would we see about ourselves that would be different from what it was before self-awareness showed up?

Sarah: 00:05:54 Yeah, I think that we’ve become more comfortable then with who we are. Obviously I talk about confidence a lot because that’s a lot of my work. I always say that that’s about being really rooted in who you are. And again, sometimes we’re afraid to take that action because we feel that we have to be confident before we can make those steps. But actually if we just take that little first step, we then become more competent in things which then helps us to grow in confidence. And so when I talk about stepping out of the shadows, it’s really getting to know yourself again. Because I think part of my journey as well was kind of losing myself in my career, which I’m sure that many women can relate to. And it’s having to take that time to stop and reflect, reconnecting with myself, my passions, my strengths, my purpose. So that then I’m comfortable in myself and can really step into my power and what I want to do. And that’s what I’m really passionate about supporting others with.

Tesse: 00:07:04 Did you notice any changes in the pandemic to this kind of space, being comfortable and stepping into yourself? Was there anything different?

Sarah: 00:07:14 I think the pandemic has given people a lot of time, perhaps for reflection, because. You know, many people wherever was rushing to the office to work, to picking children or whatever it was in life that they were juggling. And suddenly life become, I wouldn’t say calm cause it hasn’t been calm at all, but it’s just we’ve had to adapt and work in different ways. And for me it gave me that chance to reflect. And I think and a lot of people I have spoken to really suddenly thought, actually this was the nudge I needed to make some changes in my life, you know. I think we thought suddenly actually life is too short. There’s more that I want to be, perhaps I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my role. And now it’s maybe really think that it’s time for me to truly reflect on where I am and what I want to do in the future.

Paula: 00:08:13 I’m sitting here engrossed in what you’re saying. And I know you use yourself as an example, and you talked about other women sometimes find themselves. But I was wondering if you had any specific stories of instances where you have seen people use, or women use self-awareness to grow?

Sarah: 00:08:32 Yeah, well obviously in coaching that’s part of the journey, isn’t it? That growth. And I think for my experience it’s interesting when you look at the work. When you’re working in the corporate world as a woman and a career, you’re very busy, you’re focused on the job in hand. But certainly for me as well. We talk about personal development and we’re always developing in our roles. But in the corporate world what fascinates me is actually, are we truly developing in ourselves or is it more about our technical abilities and all of the other things? And I think when we talk about self-awareness things change suddenly. Like so maybe when we make the decision we have children or a big change happens. I think that’s the moment that sometimes people do reflect because things are changing. They’re having to adapt and get closer to what’s going on in their life and actually thinking. Gosh, I’m not sure whether I’m heading in the right direction or using,  having children as an example, just because that’s a major change for people or reason getting married or you know caring for parents. We have to start understanding ourselves a bit better almost before we can support others. I think people want to see the real you, and sometimes we don’t show that. I think definitely in the workplace as well. I think things are changing, but I think people are sometimes afraid to show the real them behind that mask behind the title.

Paula: 00:10:04 I love that, things are changing and people are afraid to show themselves behind the mask. Very relevant, now with the mask.  I like that behind the title. But I noticed that one of your specialties is helping quietly ambitious women. So they’re ambitious, there’s a reason you chose that.

Sarah: 00:10:21 Yeah there is. when i first set up my business, my coaching business. Obviously we talk about, you know, finding your ideal clients and who you want to work with. And that was an area that I was passionate about. So I am somebody that’s a bit more, perhaps quiet and reserved. I wouldn’t say, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily introverted. I have traits of both introvert and extrovert. I love working for people that perhaps sometimes hiding in the background. They don’t want to speak up in meetings and things because I’m worried that they’re not good enough or don’t have the right answers to things, that they’re quite happy to hide in the shadows. But actually they’ve got so many skills and strengths, but it’s really just un – tapping what they already have and helping to build that confidence. So it’s those people, and I’ve worked with obviously different people, but that’s the area that I’m really passionate about. Because I know that I can see that they have their strengths and it’s just helping them to unleash them into the world. And actually as well there’s a thing with confidence that we sometimes think that you have to be an extrovert to get on in the world. Again, this is changing in the workplace, but it’s often certainly in the past there was always perhaps the big characters, the ones that would happy to shout about their accomplishments. They’re the ones that are going to get noticed and get promoted. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they were better than the ones that were quieter, but they just were happy to shout about themselves. So it’s helping other people do it in a way that they feel comfortable with.

Tesse: 00:11:28 That’s so amazing. As you say that Sarah, I’m thinking about a TED talk that was given by Susan Cain “With The Power Of Introverts”. Which is an amazing thing that talks about what you’re saying about how people with introverted preference can be effective and are effective leaders in the same way that extroverts can be. Now we’ve mentioned women. What would you say to men who are listening here to this talk? What would you say to those guys?

Sarah: 00:11:47 This is all relevant for men and women isn’t it? If I work you know, if I work  with organizations as well as with men in the workplace. And I think the whole self-awareness piece is such a big topic now as well isn’t it? Particularly in the workplace. And it used to be.  It used to be seen as perhaps a bit fluffy to start to understand yourself a bit better. I think people, particularly men perhaps as well, they’re often scared to think, well I don’t want to do that in a work place. I don’t need to do that  I’m fine as I am. And actually now I’m really peaceful. I think people are opening up more. People are talking and you know, people are leading with compassion, empathy and leaders today are starting to share their stories. So whether you’re female or male, it’s just about being open and sharing that with people.

Tesse: 00:12:23 Paula any thoughts that come to you?

Paula: 00:12:26 I like what she’s doing, because something that has always kind of aligned to me with what I guess, I’m going to backtrack a bit. But one of the reasons that Tesse and I became friends was that, we were probably one of the people who were different, we’ve always in the background when we were going to school. And so we kind of gravitated together. And so that’s why when I saw that sentence in your bio, it’s struck me, you know quietly ambitious. Because as you said that lots of women. I know you told me you  talk mainly to women, or that’s my understanding except I’m wrong about that. But there are lots of women who are very ambitious, but they’re too shy on just you know,  don’t think that they have a voice and I’m happy you are doing this. I’m happy that you’ve recognized this. I’m happy that you’re showcasing them, because I believe everybody has a purpose and I believe everyone has a voice it can be quiet, but it’s still an important voice. So I love what you’re doing.

Sarah: 00:13:06 Thank you. It’s just it’s doing things in a way that works for you. So don’t try and be somebody that your not. Because when you’re real and when you’re you ,things  just become  more natural.

Paula: 00:13:14 So true, I like that. That’s more and more becoming some, I don’t want to say school of thought. But more and  more people are realizing that your strengths are your strengths and you know, and it’s innate to you and it’s unique to you and the world will not have what you can give, because only you can give what you have. I love, I love it. I can’t help saying that over and over I love what you’re doing.

Sarah: 00:13:29 Thank you

Tesse: 00:13:29 Well that is because you are a quiet leader you know, you lead with compassion. So I think that you’re gravitating towards Sarah’s wonderful book.” It Starts With  Me” that’s where you are. And beginning to wrap up and I thought I’d be curious to know, you know, are there any last thoughts you have for people listening in today?

Sarah: 00:13:43 Well, I think Just as we talked a lot about the self-awareness piece and obviously reconnecting with yourself as well. And I think just spend some time, if you can just a bit. We talked at the start about being still and just always reflecting on you know, on your strengths and also recognizing your weaknesses. Because when you’re self aware, you’re just, you’re comfortable with where you are. And I think it’s just a really good place to start. And then you continue to grow, you know what areas you need to improve and just embrace being you.

Tesse: 00:14:09 I love it, embrace being you. It seems so kind, so warm, so cuddly. Paula,I know I’m feeling like this what about you? How are you feeling? I  feel  I am having a massage with self-awareness and humility.

Paula: 00:14:22 You took the words from my mouth, because as you said, what was that phrase again? You just said it Tesse. Embrace being you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. When you have the lower end of 50.

Tesse: 00:14:34 I love it.

Paula: 00:14:35 So embrace, I’m embracing being me at this stage of life. I mean I heard that quote or sentence and loved it. Tesse said it and I immediately forgot it, even though I wanted to talk about it. Embrace being you yes. Nobody else can be you. Nobody else can duplicate you. I was talking about it with my niece and she was saying you know, auntie even identical twins are different. They have different emotions at different times. So yeah being you is a powerful statement.

Sarah: 00:14:54 Definitely.

Paula: 00:14:55 Thank you for bringing that up. You can see that Tesse and I are so impressed by everything that you do. I was wondering, do you have any gifts or any bonuses or anything that you can give to the listening audience, even if it’s like a sample chapter of your book or just something?

Sarah: 00:15:06 Yes. There’s obviously the book that was part of the collaboration. I’ve got my chapter that actually I can share with the audience. So yeah, no problem.

Tesse: 00:15:12 Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know, before you round up I just want to say another thing. This is something I picked up from Sarah’s book quoting Robert Toth and that’s “genius is there in all of us, just waiting for us to tap into it”. I love it. Just waiting for us to tap into it. Great stuff.

Sarah: 00:15:30 Yeah.

Paula: 00:15:31 It’s great, I love that too. I mean there’s a genius in each one of us yeah just waiting for us to tap into it. We need people like Sarah to make us aware of our genius. Because it can be hidden there and you think you know, that’s just me or when someone says you’re such a great writer, you’re like, yeah yeah, I wish I can be a better talker you know. Instead of embracing the fact that you’re a great writer, yeah.

Sarah: 00:15:47 We all work in progress aren’t we? We always learning and growing.

Paula: 00:15:51 Yes, yes we are, we are. Oh, this has been great. So I’m about to wrap up. Is there anything else? Is there any question that you’d love us to ask you that we haven’t?

Sarah: 00:15:59 No, I think we’ve covered everything. But thank you again for having me.

Paula: 00:16:03 So thank you once again our listeners for listening to our amazing guests, Sarah Giles. And again to our listeners, please head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you like what you’re hearing, please write us a raving review. And if you have questions or topics that you want us to cover related to leadership or governance, please send us a note. Remember it can be personal as well as professional. And last but not least, if you want to be a guest on the show, head over to “www.tesseakpeki./tesse talks” to apply.